New Honda Fit Shuttle: Leaked Brochure Reveals Station Wagon-Like Model

A bonanza of allegedly official brochure photos showing a new, station-wagon-like variant of the Japanese domestic market [JDM] Fit have leaked onto the internet. Named the Fit Shuttle, the car appears to be based on the recently refreshed Fit (Honda uses the Jazz nameplate in Europe, Australia and other international markets) featuring a longer body with taller roofline and a redesigned rear end.

As you can see in the brochure shots, the Fit Shuttle will be offered in two flavors, a Hybrid version powered by the same IMA system with a 1.3 liter i-VTEC engine featured on the five-door hatchback model, and a more powerful variant with a regular 1.5-liter gasoline unit.

According to the Japanese media, the Fit Shuttle will be introduced in its home market within the next few weeks with sales to start around March. We'll follow the story and keep you posted on any updates.

Kudos to J.F. for the tip!

Sources: Ryuji & Mincara


The Plot Thickens: China a Suspect in the Renault Spy Case

As previously reported, Renault recently suspended three senior managers on suspicion of industrial espionage, related to the manufacturer’s upcoming electric cars. Naturally, the situation begs an obvious question: whom were they spying for?

On Friday, French legislator Bernard Carayon dropped the bombshell, by saying that “proven, diverse and reliable” sources suspect Chinese involvement in the matter.

“There are in effect several sources that are typically thought to be serious who consider that a Chinese buyer is in fact behind this operation”, said Carayon, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party, on France-Info radio.

The Sarkozy administration declined to comment on Mr. Carayon’s statement and, according to an inside source, the country’s counter-terrorism agency, DCRI, has not yet been involved in the matter.

Meanwhile, Renault didn’t release too many details about the affair, simply stating that it plans to take legal action against the three former company officials, whose identities will be preserved in accordance to the labor laws.

However, the automaker has pointed out in a statement that the managers were people with “extremely strategic” positions in the company, which could be one way of describing a very complicated situation.

By Csaba Daradics

Source: Associated Press via Detroit News

Honda Dealer Memo Says 4-Cylinder CrossTour and 2012 CR-V on their Way Along with New Civic

The Honda fan-boys over at the Temple of VTEC claim to have intercepted an internal memo with details on the firm's upcoming models, which was sent out today to dealers. The email reportedly states that Honda will be releasing a lower-priced based version of the Accord CrossTour equipped with a 4-cylinder engine, with sales to start in "mid-summer". We'll remind you that that CrossTour is currently offered exclusively with a 275HP 3.5-liter V6 and available four-wheel drive.

The website notes the memo also mentions the 2012 Civic, which will arrive in "late April" (this has already been officially confirmed by Honda that will show a pre-production study at the Detroit Show next week), as well as the 2012 CR-V and the Pilot SUV, without, however, getting into any more details.

Source: Temple of VTEC

Audi UK Launches Online Heritage Showroom

It’s nice to see that modern cars are evolving at an astonishing pace, incorporating innovative gadgets, advanced safety features and powerful engines, but, once in a while, you just want to spend some time looking up older models. This can be frustrating, as information about certain cars can be pretty scarce and not entirely accurate, to say the least. That’s why we salute Audi’s decision to launch a virtual heritage showroom on its UK site.

The dedicated web-page is a corner of Heaven not only for Audi fans, but for all enthusiasts who can appreciate a blast from the past.

The virtual tour showcases a bevy of historic models, ranging from the 1913 Audi Type C to the ├╝ber-achieving R8, as well as the brand’s trademark innovations, such the quattro all-wheel drive system, and glorious motorsport moments.

By Csaba Daradics



New Ford Focus Electric: Plug-in EV Unveiled in Production Form, Goes on Sale at the end of 2011

Ford is poised to take on the Nissan Leaf EV and to a lesser extent, the more technologically advanced Chevrolet Volt extended range EV with the all-new Focus Electric that was revealed today in production guise.

The Dearborn company's first-ever all-electric passenger car is based on the latest generation of the Focus five-door hatchback. Hiding behind the very Aston Martin-like grille is an electric drivetrain comprising of an electric motor capable of 123 HP and 181 lb-ft of torque, and a single-speed transmission.

Energy is provided by a lithium-ion battery system, which has engineered by Ford in cooperation with supplier LG Chem. Ford says that with the optional wall-mounted 240-volt charge station, the batteries can be charged in three to four hours, or about half the time of the Nissan Leaf. The company did not say how long it will take to charge the batteries with the standard 120-volt convenience cord that comes with the vehicle.

The all-electric Focus is capable of reaching speeds of up 84 mph (136km/h). Ford did not give out an official number on the range, but the firm's execs have previously stated that the EV will be able to cover a distance of around 100 miles or 160km.

The Focus Electric will also get several new features and technologies including a unique version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system developed especially for electric vehicles, a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft and a smartphone app called MyFord Mobile that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.

The North American variant of the Focus Electric will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, with sales to commence at the end of 2011. Ford said that for European markets, a decision on where the Focus Electric will be built is currently being finalized, but sales are scheduled to start before 2013.